Hong Kong Air Cargo Experiences Growth as Vape Transit Restrictions Lifted

Hong Kong Air Cargo Experiences Growth as Vape Transit Restrictions Lifted

The air export industry in Hong Kong is set to experience a surge, following the government’s decision to overturn a prohibition on the transshipment of e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

Freight forwarders assert that the restricted cargo represents roughly 330,000 tons annually – amounting to nearly 10% of Hong Kong’s yearly air export volume, as reported by the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (HAFFA).

The worth of the re-export cargo impacted by the restriction was projected to surpass CNY120bn ($17.33bn).

Although some air transshipment had been allowed to continue, since April of the previous year, vaping devices arriving in Hong Kong by land or sea for subsequent air transport were prohibited. Nevertheless, given that the majority of these products are manufactured in nearby Dongguan, exporters were eager to transport them by land to Hong Kong International Airport.

Upon approval of the proposal, the merchandise will be permitted to enter Hong Kong through a secure channel on specialized barges and be transported directly to the airport.

“The plan is designed solely to enable direct transshipment via Hong Kong, and the items will not be accessible for local consumption. The proposal is a response to the Hong Kong air cargo industry’s demands,” stated Willy Lin, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers Council.

“We aspire to regain some flights that were lost to rival airports due to the cessation of e-cigarette and related product shipments through Hong Kong.”

HAFFA described the ban last year as “a massive setback” that “strangled” the freight industry. Chairman Gary Lau elaborated, “The [prohibition] has resulted in a significant reduction in Hong Kong’s overall air export volume, causing the sector, airlines, cargo terminals, and Hong Kong International Airport to lose hundreds of thousands of tons of re-exports annually.”

In November, deputy secretary for transport and logistics Pamela Lam remarked, “Our air cargo transshipment declined by approximately 18% from May to October this year, compared to the same timeframe last year. If this trend persists, Hong Kong’s position as a global logistics hub will be severely compromised. While we aim to maintain the ban on importing alternative smoking products, we also want to preserve our status as an international logistics hub.”

Mr. Lin commented this morning, “The Hong Kong economy is on track for recovery, and the plan will have a positive impact on the resurgence of air freight tonnage.”

Although purchasing e-cigarette and vape products is prohibited in Hong Kong, their use is permitted.

Matthew Ma